PE man finds rare royal photo album while cleaning cellar

DECEMBER 17, 2015

A rare photo album of the British royal family's visit to Port Elizabeth in 1947 was uncovered in by a home owner while he was cleaning his cellar.

Mario Luiters said the album contains many personal mementos and photographs of King George VI as well as of his daughter, the current reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II. 

Luiters said he bought his home a few years ago, and never knew he was living in a gold mine.

“I had bought a house from a lady a few years ago with a few outside storage rooms attached. She asked me to throw away the contents, but I decided to see if anything could be salvaged," he said.

"About a year after purchasing the house, I discovered a small crawlspace in one of the rooms with several antiques inside, including a seal [signet] ring from the 1930s, gold earrings and this very unusual album. I contacted the original owner to return the items, but she wasn’t interested in keeping them and gifted them to me."

Luiters believes that the album has been hidden in the cellar for more than 68 years and belonged to an official photographer.

He said there were extremely intimate, close-up photographs of the then-princess Elizabeth and her parents on safari and as well as various shots taken during the tour in Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg, KwaZulu-Natal and other stops, with signed invitations and correspondence from various global newspapers.

“Whoever took these photos had official access to the Royal Family and carefully preserved the mementos. I would love to see it go to a museum or even the Queen herself to bring back beautiful memories”, says Luiters.

Around 26 000 residents of Port Elizabeth turned up at St George’s Park to greet the family during their tour.

Elizabeth II also celebrated her 21st birthday in Cape Town during the trip. 

The album also contains the original menu of the White Train, the King and Queen’s suitcase tags and several historically significant signatures. Details of the names of chefs and stewards in attendance are also recorded.

“I spoke to a gentleman who was in the military at that time who believes that he features in several of the photographs taken – it brought back many memories so I’m sure it’s very special to anyone with an interest in that era or the Royal Family,” Luiters said. 

Luiters is selling the album on Gumtree along with some other items. There is currently no price listed. 

"I have not valued it yet. But I am open to offers," he told News24.

-News24